Greetings to everyone, I hope and pray your Easter Weekend was truly Blessed. As the wonderful church saying goes; CHRIST IS RISEN!!! He is risen indeed.
I begin this month’s newsletter with a heartfelt message from Terry Liljenberg that brings us the truth and hope of how each one of us, when we face pain and loss in our life, can face it with the strength and assurance found in our faith in the risen Savior.
“In 1991 the resurrection of Christ was made very relevant for my wife & me when our son Josh died after being hit by a car. A couple days after Josh died, my wife found a drawing Josh had done depicting what he imagined the resurrection may have been like. This drawing, among many other things the Lord gave us at the time of Josh’s death, is His assurance to us that Josh knew his Lord and Savior and is now in heaven. For an eleven-year-old boy, the resurrection was a reality as it can be for anyone who puts their faith in Jesus.”
We thank you Terry for your sharing of the spiritual truths that brought such comfort to you both during the tragic loss of Josh, and I trust that your testimony will also comfort and strengthen every person who receives this while they might be struggling through a loss of their own. Thank you and your wife for your willingness to share your heart, and your faith, and your son with us all.
Scripture for this message comes from: John 20:1-9 (NIV)
Now, let’s take a closer look at our Scripture selection.
1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb.
She couldn’t wait until it was light but went, while it was still dark, arriving at the tomb when it became light. Mary was ready to follow Jesus’ suffering, to see Him die and now to make sure that He was prepared to lie in that tomb. So, Mary races to that Easter tomb.
What do we find out and discover? Mary went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. In the other Gospel account of Mark that was a concern of the women. As they went to that tomb, they wondered who would roll away that large stone that was in front of the tomb. The women were wondering how and who was going to roll away that stone. But as Mary arrives at the tomb the stone had already been rolled away. (It was not rolled away for Jesus to get out; but that others could get in and see that He was not there.)
2 So Mary came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. We are not given a name here of the other disciple. In the Gospel of John and other portions of Scripture we are told that Jesus loved John. This is John (the other disciple) as he calls himself the one Jesus loved. John does not refer to himself by his given name. So, the disciples we see here are Peter and John.
2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
Mary had come with spices. She had come to prepare the Lord’s body. It was a shock to her that that Jesus’ body was not there. The tomb was empty. Even though the angel told them what happened, it still was hard for her and the women to comprehend that Jesus had risen. There was a part of them, as maybe we would, that assumed his His body was stolen. It wasn’t there so possibly in their minds; someone had taken Him.
Jesus’ tomb was empty. Jesus’ followers had expected to find something there. They expected the tomb would be sealed up. They expected the guards to keep them away. The tomb was empty. They raced back to Simon Peter and John to tell them.
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Peter and John begin to run to the tomb of Jesus to see for themselves whether it was empty. They need to know if what they had heard was true.
4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. You can almost picture Peter and John running to that tomb; I want everyone to take a moment and imagine someone else is included in this race. Let’s add another person to this image in your mind; YOU! What if you were running to the tomb that morning? How would you feel? Heart Pumping! What would you be thinking that you might find? Do you arrive at the tomb first? What has happened to Jesus!? Would you go in? Maybe this helps us relate to how these disciples may have felt? How much they loved Him? How do we show our Love?
When John got there,
5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. John arrived first, but he was still in shock. He didn’t want to go in but saw the linen strips lying there.
6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. John stayed outside but Peter is going to rush in. He usually rushed in; are we like that sometimes?
When Peter rushed into the tomb, he saw the strips of linen lying there. He looked at it very closely. Peter went in; he did not stand outside and just peer in. Peter examined the fact that the strips of linen were there. There was no body. The tomb was empty. The race to the tomb of Jesus found something that just didn’t make sense – no dead body – the tomb of Jesus was empty. For these disciples, in this moment, there was sadness and heartache and more emptiness.
That was then; yet today and over the years, Christians have understood and celebrated the focus on Easter that the tomb is empty. For us it does not give us an emptiness or sadness or sorrow, but instead gives us hope, strength, and a reason to rejoice. The empty tomb means for us that Christ is arisen and lives so that we also can live. Paul states in 1 Corinthians, chapter 15 (known as the Resurrection Chapter) in the first eleven verses how important it is to understand this resurrection, that it wasn’t something made up, that no one stole this body. Even though the guards tried to spread the rumor that someone had taken the body of Jesus, it was not true (see 1 Corinthians 15). Instead, Jesus came back to life to give us life for all eternity with God.
Paul reaffirms that vital fact of faith also in 2 Timothy: “but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 TIMOTHY 1:10). What a powerful and life changing statement!
For us, Jesus’ empty Easter tomb reminds us of God’s grace to us. For all of us deserve to be buried, and deserve to be punished because of our sins, yet instead we have the opportunity to be forgiven. We see this in Romans that our sins can be buried, and we can be brought back to fullness of life. Romans 6 tells us: “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (ROMANS 6:4).
Paul states by that same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead is also in God’s adopted Children. As we run to Christ, like the disciples raced to the tomb that first Easter Sunday when it was empty, we are also raised to live a new life with new strength and endurance.
Yes, many in this world are going to lose this fine-tuned focus and purpose of Easter way to soon. But you and I realize that this empty Easter tomb begins to bring focus our race of life, and deeply impacts our Faith journey. My friends, we race to the Easter tomb each year and the tomb is still empty. No sadness, but joy! He is alive!
As we see in that resurrection chapter in 1 Corinthians: “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “’Death has been swallowed up in victory’” (1 CORINTHIANS 15:54).
This helps us know that death has been swallowed up in victory; and no matter when our last day on this earth is, our mortality will be clothed with immortality and our perishable with imperishable, through the power of salvation found in the person of Jesus Christ.
In closing, I remind each of us that He who lived in heaven, came and lived without sin here on earth, and died (Praise the Lord that this is not the end of this story) …. that He rose again so that we could live with Him forever.
Therefore, in our daily race of life, remember we have a Risen Savior who sits at the right Hand of God the Father, and will come again in Glory! Christ is Risen…Amen.
Blessings from Above, Chaplain Robert Kinnune